Louis van Gaal becoming Tottenham Hotspur manager for next season is seemingly a no-go.
The Netherlands manager's post-World Cup availability had been interpreted by many as being too good an opportunity to pass up for Tottenham.
Rumours of an immediate appointment following Andre Villas-Boas' departure in December proved unfounded (and he was always unlikely to job share anyways). Spurs' mixed form under the Portuguese's actual replacement Tim Sherwood had seen Van Gaal's name continue to be brought up, though, with Sky Sports being among those to do so as recently as last month.
If there was any interest from Spurs, the vacancy at Manchester United has seemingly killed off any chance of securing Van Gaal's signature. Over the weekend, The Observer's Jamie Jackson was among those reporting the veteran coach's hiring at Old Trafford as an inevitability.
Having agreed to a contract until 2015, Sherwood told Sky Sports News last week of his disappointment at the continued talk about his own job.
A win over Aston Villa on Sunday will see Spurs finish sixth in the Premier League, in the process qualifying for next season's Europa League. Saturday's 2-0 defeat to West Ham United, the latest in a series of poor results against rivals this season, has not done Sherwood's hopes of remaining in charge much good.
The 45-year-old is the sixth full-time manager at White Hart Lane since David Pleat's caretaker reign a decade ago. If they are not interested in establishing any sense of continuity with the Englishman—and with Van Gaal unlikely now—Spurs must inform Sherwood soon and move swiftly to establish a list of candidates they want to consider.
Only those working the rumour mill will benefit from ongoing speculation. Every week a new name is thrown into the hat, the latest being someone already employed by another English club:
Tottenham to sound out Roberto Martinez with Everton manager reportedly on three-man shortlist http://t.co/2uPVfli9pM— ESPN.co.uk (@ESPNUK) May 6, 2014
Tottenham released a statement on their official website last week, saying "we have NOT contacted any club regarding coaching appointments."
Perhaps that is the truth. But the failure to back Sherwood suggests that will not be the case for long. Nor should it be.
Should Tottenham Hotspur even be considering replacing Tim Sherwood as manager?
The calibre of manager they will target—i.e. those they believe to be an upgrade over Sherwood—will not wait around. The process they should look to replicate is that engineered by Liverpool two years ago following their decision to replace Kenny Dalglish.
"From our point of view, we did all the right things," the club's managing director Ian Ayre told the Liverpool Echo soon after. "We approached the clubs we needed to approach, and conducted ourselves properly at all times."
Brendan Rodgers was hired from Swansea City two weeks after Dalglish's departure. Crucially, the evaluation process of potential candidates—which going by media reports at the time included Roberto Martinez, Pep Guardiola and Villas-Boas—was swift but thorough, considering their availability and suitability for the job and acting accordingly.
The speed of the process was not about immediate results, as shown by a mediocre first season for the Reds under Rodgers' management. It was about getting who they believed to be the right man in place while they had the chance—a decision the Liverpool hierarchy will be pleased with given the improvements the Northern Irishman has overseen.
Be it Martinez, Ajax boss Frank de Boer (who has publicly expressed interest, here via ESPN), Napoli's Rafael Benitez (linked by The Mirror's Darren Lewis last month) or someone else entirely, Spurs have no excuse for not choosing who they want before the month is out.
Preparation time for the appointed man can obviously be beneficial too.
Villas-Boas' hiring was only confirmed at the beginning of July in 2012, a few weeks after Harry Redknapp's sacking. The season did not begin until August 18, so it was hardly a race against time for him and his new coaching staff.
More time for Villas-Boas may not have made much difference to Spurs' slow start to 2012-13. Just like any potential appointment this summer, he also had to wait on players returning from the summer's international tournament. Judging by an interview he gave to SpursTV (above) at the time, he seemed more than ready to get to work.
Nonetheless, having a manager in place well before pre-season begins gives him a head start on planning, as well as familiarising himself with the workings of his new club.
David Moyes did not start working officially for Manchester United until the beginning of July last year. Being behind their rivals in player recruitment that summer has since been deemed a contributory factor to the Red Devils' falling behind their rivals in 2013-14 and the Scotsman's recent removal.
Spurs chairman Daniel Levy told the club's official website in April that supporters should not expect "a summer of major upheaval, but rather to strengthen in key positions." Still, where these changes should be made cannot be established until the identity of the manager is confirmed.
The caveat with the Spurs job these days for any potential manager is wondering just how much time they will be given. The aforementioned Rodgers was trusted to get Liverpool back in the Champions League and challenging for trophies, despite a tough first year.
Levy and the Spurs hierarchy have increasingly shown less patience. Perhaps a new man will be the one to buck the trend, if not it's hard to see where the club will go from there.
Life at Tottenham ain't no Bruce Springsteen song, but just like the Boss' "Thunder Road," the north Londoners could be wasting another summer praying in vain for a saviour to rise from these streets if they are not careful.
Their best chance of getting the right man is figuring out what they want now and backing him properly to do his job.